Refurbished Parking Meters Collect Coins to Support Local Nonprofits

by | Mar 2024

“A LITTLE CHANGE goes a long way” is the motto of the fundraising organization Change for Change Caring Meters, and the saying has proven true. Since September 2020, 10 lime green parking meters around Lynchburg have been collecting pocket change to distribute to local nonprofits — and the amount of money collected has reached the thousands.

Peggy Dolley and Libby Fitzgerald founded Change for Change. The two Lynchburg residents are known for their charitable work. The idea for parking meters, Nolley said, came from a vacation to the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. The city of Charlottetown used the meters to help its less fortunate population, and Nolley thought the idea was perfect for her city.

“I didn’t think of it as something that Lynchburg needs, as much as it’s something that Lynchburg would do,” Nolley said. “This is a very giving community. We’re friendly, we are concerned about our citizens, and I felt like it was a no-brainer that we could bring this to Lynchburg.” 

While she had experience with nonprofits like Beacon of Hope, Nolley had never coordinated a city-wide effort like this. Installing parking meters would require official city permits – something Fitzgerald knew from coordinating a public piano project, Hill City Keys. 

“She knew how to navigate the city to get those permits,” Nolley said. “She jumped right on board and said, ‘Yes, I’ll help you.’ And so the two of us have been together doing this project since then.” 

The city supported the initiative and installed seven refurbished parking meters downtown, while local builder John Vincent installed three around the Boonsboro area. 

Nolley and Fitzgerald collect change from the meters until the total reaches $1,000. Then the pair reach out to their current matching business partners: Bank of the James; Schewels Home; NB Handy; Davidson, Doyle, and Hilton LLP; Pettyjohn, Wood, and White Inc.; Truist Bank; Truist Wealth; and CapTrust. 

“The partners don’t have to match the amount collected, but each pitches in something. They have been so very generous and, cumulatively, they have given $3,000 to add to our $1,000, so we are deeply grateful to them all,” expressed Fitzgerald.

In the three and a half years since placing the meters, Change for Change has distributed its funds eight times, totaling $32,000. All donations went to small, local charities chosen by a committee of community members.

“There are so many efforts in this community doing wonderful things that aren’t well known and well funded,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what we look for, those groups who don’t receive grants and can really use the extra $4,000 for their good work.”

So far, Change for Change has given to Interfaith Outreach Association, One Community One Voice, Red Truck Ministries, Lynchburg Area Youth Sports Initiative, IRON Lives Inc., Kuumba Dance and Drum Ensemble Inc., Lynchburg Daily Bread, and Parkview Community Mission’s Food for Thought backpack program. 

The donations helped buy hygiene products for teens, pay rent and electric bills, send children to competitions, and so much more. Change for Change’s next contribution will go to Isaiah 117 House, which provides a safe place for children to stay while awaiting foster care placement.

“We’re making a difference for people who really need it — in small ways, not huge, but small ways,” Fitzgerald said.

Nolley and Fitzgerald have encouraged the community to help them beyond donating pocket change. Each meter has a Venmo sticker. Additionally, the organization welcomes cans and bags of change. 

In one case, Nolley and Fitzgerald accepted three buckets of change totaling around $800. In another instance, two preschools in downtown Lynchburg, St. John’s Day School and Elizabeth’s Early Learning Center, collected coins in a classroom jug and organized a school-wide field trip that allowed students to put money in the meters.

“That’s been a great opportunity for them to visually instill in the children the importance of helping those in need in their community — those who don’t have what they have,” emphasized Fitzgerald.

Change for Change is officially under the umbrella of United Way and was previously under the Lynchburg Community Foundation. Officially, it qualifies as a nonprofit organization. Since there is no overhead cost, every cent that goes into a meter is donated to a local charity. Nolley said she hopes people “spread the love,” and maybe one day, every town will have something similar.

“It’s just such a wonderful feeling when you know that you can help somebody else,” Nolley said. “It doesn’t take much to give in order to make a change; just a little bit can go a long way.” GN

More Good News

In Crust We Trust

In Crust We Trust

WALKING INTO Sourdough Pizza, you are welcomed with a modern, no-frills aesthetic that represents the fresh and clean menu well. The first thing I noticed was the playlist — Cyndi Lauper, Alanis...

read more
Fireworks, Flavor, and Family

Fireworks, Flavor, and Family

WHAT BETTER time to indulge in the ultimate celebration of all things American: backyard barbecues, July Fourth festivities, and the comforting flavors of home? Let’s salute the classic dishes that...

read more
Edison2 and the Very Light Car

Edison2 and the Very Light Car

RECORD-BREAKING INVENTIONS are not common, and Lynchburg is proud to be home to one such invention: the Edison2 Very Light Car. Nearly 15 years ago, Lynchburg found itself on the national stage...

read more
Recipes: Fuel for Focus

Recipes: Fuel for Focus

RISE AND shine to breakfasts that fuel minds and bodies alike! Celebrate the power of wholesome, delicious meals to kickstart learning and energize young students. We’ll dish up recipes packed with...

read more
Faith: Just as You Are

Faith: Just as You Are

FOR OVER 30 years, children’s television host Mister Rogers came into the homes of millions via our television sets and told us something we should never forget.  “I like you just the way you...

read more